by Clifford D. Simak
So long as there were no questions, there need not be any answers.
The strange figure of Enoch roams the land, rifle slung in arm, just as he’s been doing for the last 100 years. And since he lives such a solitary life, the people who notice his longevity leave him alone anyway.
Enoch runs a way station, a layover for aliens traveling across the galaxy. As the one man on the planet who’s had extensive interaction with the other races of the galaxy, he’s learned much of what cannot yet be learned on Earth, including languages and technologies. When one of his friends from another planet tells him protocol has been broken and the way station would have to be disassembled, Enoch has to weigh the arguments and decide the fate of all mankind.
War is a major theme here, as is often the case with the best speculative fiction. Somehow or other, mankind has not yet grasped the intrinsic fallacy of our default position, the ‘I’m right because I’ll kill you’ position. We’ll get out of this mindset, or we won’t. We’ll have a tomorrow, or we won’t.
This book doesn’t have the answers, but it asks the questions. And if the ultimate answer is not yet available, the questions have got to be asked until it is.
Way Station is a brilliant piece of fiction and an important philosophical work.
Our horizons are so far, he thought, and we see so little of them.